For­mer Mana mu­si­cian Rodger Fox talks to about join­ing a rock band, Lady Gaga singing jazz and his rad­i­cal plans for the Rodger Fox Big Band.

Talia Carlisle

Kapi-Mana News - - FEATURE -

Was the trom­bone your first in­stru­ment?

My first was the vi­o­lin, which I didn’t like. Then I learnt the trum­pet for three or four years, which I en­joyed. My fa­ther was head of mu­sic at Mana Col­lege. He had lost most of his trom­bone play­ers when I was about to go to the school. So he bought me a trom­bone and I had the school hol­i­days to learn it. Did you have a choice? No. It was ac­tu­ally the best thing that hap­pened to me be­cause there weren’t many peo­ple do­ing it, so that opened a lot of doors for me. I was pretty novel, be­ing a trom­bone player in a rock band.

When did you join a rock band?

When I left school I was plan­ning to be a clas­si­cal trom­bone player. I was ac­cepted into the New Zealand Sym­phony Orches­tra trainees, but they cut the in­take, so that was my clas­si­cal ca­reer stopped. There was an ad­ver­tise­ment in The Evening Post for brass play­ers wanted for the rock band Quincy Con­serve. They had top-10 hits in the late 60s and early 70s and played in the main venues. I was in the band for six years. Where did you grow up? Christchurch. My par­ents were mu­si­cians, and were al­ways con­duct­ing brass bands and do­ing mu­si­cal pro­duc­tions. It was a busy house­hold. I fol­lowed that, but pos­si­bly a bit more manic.

How do you bal­ance per­form­ing with teach­ing at the New Zealand School of Mu­sic?

One thing helps the other. I re­ally love teach­ing. I di­rect big bands and I teach trom­bone. I’m a joint co-or­di­na­tor for the young mu­sic pro­gramme for Vic­to­ria Uni­ver­sity. Then I’ve got the Rodger Fox Big Band, the most recog­nis­able big band in New Zealand. It’s been go­ing for 42 years. Peo­ple see me play in events and know I teach at the school, so there’s a lot of syn­ergy in what I do that keeps me go­ing.

How has mu­si­cal ed­u­ca­tion changed since you were a stu­dent?

When I started in the 1960s there was no jazz ed­u­ca­tion at high school or uni­ver­sity. You had to go over­seas or learn from records and books. The first jazz uni­ver­sity pro­gramme was the New Zealand School of Mu­sic, although it’s had sev­eral names.

Is jazz mu­sic still as popular to­day?

If you lis­ten to Ge­orge Ben­son or Steely Dan, the chords are jazz and the rhythm’s jazz. You have Lady Gaga singing jazz with Tony Bennett. The har­monic side is all jazz. The best per­for­mances I’ve seen were San­tana, James Brown and Steely Dan. They had fan­tas­tic mu­si­cian­ship, stage pres­ence and en­ergy. All of them had some jazz over­tone through im­pro­vi­sa­tion.

Who have you most en­joyed work­ing with?

Michael Brecker was a ground­break­ing sax­o­phone player and a very nice man with a giv­ing per­son­al­ity. He im­parted a lot of knowl­edge on to mu­si­cians in the

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.